Fruit fly intercepted at border

21 May 2010

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) has successfully intercepted live cucumber fruit fly eggs (Bactrocera cucumis) on a consignment of produce from Australia this week.

The fruit fly were found on rock-melon in a single container from Queensland which also contained zucchini and beans. The rock-melon have been impounded and directed for reshipment or destruction. The zucchini and beans have been cleared as they are compliant with the import health standard.

MAFBNZ Group Manager Plant Imports and Exports, Stephen Butcher says the find provides good evidence New Zealand's rigorous border system is working.

"An incursion of fruit fly would have serious consequences for New Zealand's horticultural industry. MAF has strict importing rules for produce from countries with fruit fly. We have systems in place to ensure fresh fruit and vegetables entering New Zealand meet our phytosanitary requirements.

"Fruit fly is present in many areas of Australia and we require all produce from these areas to be treated before export to New Zealand. Rock-melons are treated post-harvest before export. We have asked the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service to investigate whether this happened or if the treatment failed," Dr Butcher says.

MAFBNZ does not inspect every piece of produce because of the international certification systems already in place. It does, however, check a sample of produce from every consignment to verify that the system is working.

Dr Butcher says imports of fresh produce, using the same treatment system from Queensland, have been suspended until investigations by MAFBNZ and the Australian authorities are carried out.

He says a fruit fly incursion in key fruit-growing regions of New Zealand would have a significant effect on the New Zealand economy with major impacts on our exports, potential job losses and eradication costing millions.

"Various strains of fruit fly cause extensive damage worldwide to horticultural crops, and are considered a significant quarantine pest worldwide. An incursion here could result in our trading partners suspending horticultural exports from New Zealand."

New Zealand's biosecurity system is designed to provide layers of protection for our primary producers and environment.

In addition to offshore certification and inspection, and checks at the border, MAFBNZ operates a lure-based surveillance trapping system which enables early detections of any fruit fly incursion and enable fast action. Traps are concentrated in populated areas serving as centres for tourism and/or trade, areas of significant horticultural activity and areas specified as being climatically conducive to the establishment of fruit fly. This system involves over 7500 traps nationwide.

Horticulture New Zealand and fresh produce importers have been informed of the find.

Media contact:
Helen Keyes, MAFBNZ Communications Manager
04 894 0161 or 029 894 0161



Last Updated: 22 September 2010

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